This week’s News Roundup theme song is “Gulf Coast Highway.”
If you’re the kind of person who sits around thinking, “I wonder what in the world is going on in the world of old historical buildings in Mississippi,” then stick around as we take a virtual tour around the state’s news this week.
Sept. 11, 2009: Sherry Lucas gives us her usual good statewide coverage of the 10 Most Endangered List Unveiling in last Friday’s Clarion-Ledger. Strangely I haven’t seen any coverage in the Meridian paper about the listing of the Threefoot Building, although they’ve had some good articles on the building over the last year or so. The most exciting 10 Most article is in the Natchez Democrat, “Arlington tagged ‘endangered’“–actually the article itself is pretty straightforward, but the comments, which you absolutely must read, make me think that maybe there’s finally just too much alcohol in Natchez. Congrats to those commenters who have taken a stand for preservation and just plain ol’ rationality on that comment string, because let me tell ya’, it’s a bare-fisted brawl in there.
Sept. 13, 2009: “B.B. King Museum has strong first year: About 30,000 make trek to Indianola blues hub” proclaims the headline of an Associated Press story in the Clarion-Ledger. The article compares the success of one of Mississippi’s newest museums to the difficulties of more-established tourist and heritage sites. I visited the B.B. King Museum a few months ago and was impressed with the quality of the exhibits and the larger perspective the story of B.B. King gave me on a whole variety of topics, including the Mississippi Delta, the complexity of racial relations (he spent a good deal of his teenage years living with a white family in Montgomery County), segregation, and of course, blues music and its evolution. I think the museum also acts as a nice counterpart to the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, allowing blues aficionados who are traveling Hwy 61 one more opportunity to stop and experience a piece of the Delta.
On the other hand (yes, there’s always another hand with me . . .), I worry about the future of this type of niche museum, especially when it’s focused on one charismatic person–what happens when he’s gone? Ok, I know that’s a downer, but hey! it’s my job to be a downer. Let’s hope for the best, though–I’m sure everything will work out great, hunky-dory, etc.
Sept 15, 2009: “Red Barn in the running for history center” according to the Vicksburg Post:
A landmark familiar to passers-by on U.S. 61 just south of Rolling Fork could have new life breathed into it as a federal center to tell part of the history of the Mississippi Delta.
The structure is known as the Red Barn, which is what it is, and is at the forefront of sites being considered for the South Delta Interpretive Center.
The location’s proximity and visibility from the historic highway makes the barn site a top choice of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In case you’re wondering why in the world a barn would be considered an appropriate place for a history center (is this the new name for museum?), let me assure you, this is no ordinary barn. First of all, it’s enormous, second of all, it’s an incredible and beautiful structure. Third of all, sometimes I wish incredible and beautiful buildings would be just left alone and not turned into “history centers.” Man, I’m grumpy today, aren’t I?
Sept 16, 2009:Completely loved this nugget of an article from Rick Cleveland, the Clarion-Ledger’s sports writer, “Lesson Links SEC, Jackson in History.” It seems that the Southeastern Conference began in Jackson in 1940, under the leadership of former MS governor Mike Connor, and actually had its offices on the 13th floor of the “old Standard Life Building.” Here’s my problem, and I should have done a little research today to make sure that we’re thinking of the same building. Those of you who haven’t been around as long as ol’ Malvaney know the tall Art Deco skyscraper down by the King Edward as “the Standard Life Building,” but old-timers know that that particular building was originally called the Tower Building. The Standard Life Co. meanwhile, had its headquarters in the building now known as the Plaza Building. So is “the old Standard Life Building” that Cleveland refers to the Tower Building or the Plaza Building? Aah-haa! I have just now found the answer–according to Downtown Jackson Partners, the Plaza Building only has 12 floors, so clearly Cleveland is talking about the other Standard Life, unless the SEC was on the roof of the building.
Ok, now that that’s resolved (at long last), I have to mention this great story Cleveland relates–wouldn’t you have loved to been there for this great southern show?
Biggs says his grandmother loved to tell the story about when LSU came to play Ole Miss at the old state fairgrounds while Conner was still the governor.
“Huey P. Long (then a U.S. Senator from Louisiana) led the LSU band right down Capitol Street in his white suit with white shoes,” Biggs says, laughing at the story. “He stopped in front of the mansion, led a big LSU cheer, and then walked up to the front door and banged the door with his cane. The story goes that my grandfather knew he was out there, but wouldn’t go answer the door.”
Anyway, I really love coming across these articles that aren’t about “preservation” or even “History,” but go a long way toward bringing life to the buildings we love to love.
In other news, I know you all gave a little cheer yesterday, when you checked the MissPres viewer stats around 3:30 PM.